Are State Gun Laws Associated with Pediatric Firearm-Related Deaths?

September 04, 2019

Link to Research Article

Article Citation

Goyal MK, Badolato GM, Patel SJ, Iqbal SF, Parikh K, McCarter R. State Gun Laws and Pediatric Firearm-Related Mortality. Pediatrics. 2019;144:e20183283.

First Dose

  • Firearm-related injuries are a major cause of mortality for children in the United States: on average, 7 children die in the US each day of firearm-related injuries.
  • States differ substantially in their gun policies related to background checks for firearm and ammunition purchase and for identification requirements.
  • The authors analyzed state-level mortality data in the context of state firearm policies and controlled for sociodemographic population-level factors and gun ownership rates.
  • Overall, they found that states with stricter firearm-related policies had lower rates of firearm-related pediatric mortality (adjusted incidence rate ratio 0.96; 95% confidence interval 0.93-0.99).

Key Points to Remember

  • Assessments of 33 different state-level gun policies were sourced from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, using a 100-point scale in which higher scores reflect stronger laws; negative scores are possible for policies shown to increase public risk.
  • State-level mortality data were sourced from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 2011-2015. During the study period, there were 21,241 firearm-related deaths among youth ≤21 years old (>11 deaths per day).
  • State-specific mortality incidence rates ranged from 1.1 to 18.1 per 100,000 youth. State gun law scores ranged from -39 to +81. For every 10-point increase in the gun law score, the firearm-related mortality incidence decreased by 8% (incidence rate ratio [IRR] 0.92; 95% CI 0.89-0.96); after adjustment for sociodemographic factors, stricter laws were associated with the adjusted IRR of 0.96 (above).
  • Focusing on specific policies, after sociodemographic adjustments, states that required universal background checks for firearm purchases for ≥5 or more years had significantly lower youth firearm-related mortality than states that did not have such laws (adjusted IRR 0.65; 0.46-0.90).

Summary Author

Matthew M. Davis, MD, MAPP

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